Attention Turns To Trusted News Brands In Troubled Times

Uncertain times call for reliable news sources. That seems to have been the story of 2019 as the UK decided to finally answer the Brexit question with a resounding election victory for Boris Johnson. It would appear to already be the case in the first quarter of 2020 as people seek the latest updates on COVID-19.

First 2019. It seems odd now to think that political turmoil could be top of the agenda when we today have people dying from a global pandemic. But cast your mind back just a few months and people were desperate for factual news about Brexit and then the election that was going to answer the question once and for all.

The latest Pamco figures show that online audiences for national newspapers swelled to more than 40 million per month last year, up by 3 million on the year before. Across national and local, reader numbers leapt 10% during 2019 to hit 34 million per day. 

As for individual titles, only one national stood still in 2019 while the other twelve grew audiences with The Times seeing a 25% leap in combined print and digital audience, despite having a pay wall. 

This week, we've had Press Gazette reporting that BBC News has been having its best figures for five years, with audiences up 70% on the year before, while Channel 4 News is similarly reporting that its audience has near enough doubled in the past few weeks.

The inference is clear, and it backs up what most people in journalism have been saying for a long time and were hoping would get through to advertisers. 

People enjoy reading news from sources they trust, and in uncertain times that is very important. We have all probably clicked on links from friends that take us to new outlets that look fairly professional but are typically campaigning by reporting the facts as they fit into their world view.

That is why these figures are so refreshing to see. They show what media executives have said all along. In a time of heightened interest in the news, the big trusted brands have done well.

It actually chimes well with what I've been hearing from ad executives who are targeting newspapers at the moment because they know there is so much interest in the latest news updates. They are also doing the same with social, only more so than normal.

Right now, attention is focused on the news and social networks. While social is likely allowing people to swap stories about confinement and home schooling, the news sites being turned to will be those that we know are reporting the facts and not wild conspiracy theories.

Quality journalism attracts media attention. Advertisers should never forget this very simple axiom.

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